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AUSTRALIAN MEDICAL ASSOCIATION (WA)
The AMA (WA) has rejected WA Health’s offer for the replacement WA Health System – Medical Practitioners – AMA Industrial Agreement 2016.
Throughout the process, the AMA (WA) has continued to raise five key issues that must be addressed by the replacement agreement – permanency; portability of accrued entitlements and service; rostering and on-call provisions; Arrangement A salary for all purposes of the Agreement; and recognition of specialist qualifications.
The offer presented to the AMA (WA), five working days before the expiry of the 2016 Agreement and six months after we provided our log of claims to WA Health, fails to adequately address any of the AMA (WA)’s key claims. While it reflects a number of benefits provided to other WA Health employees, the offer proposes to reduce or limit a number of doctors’ entitlements and fails to address any issues raised relating to clinical safety or employee wellbeing.
As it stands, the offer will disadvantage all practitioners employed by WA Health compared to current industrial entitlements. Moreover, it fails to clarify a number of areas of confusion, and in some instances potentially reduces access to parental leave, limits service recognition for DiTs and the progression of specialist-qualified GPs, in addition to delivering a pay cut for all classifications in forecast real terms. The offer reflects a system which at present, does not value its clinical workforce and fails to comprehend matters of clinical safety and employee wellbeing, such as systemic wage theft, abuse of the employment contracts renewal process, variable interpretations of parental leave and recall payments, and a fragmented approach towards recognition of accrued entitlements, amongst others.
Throughout negotiations, the AMA (WA) has highlighted the current value of doctors’ goodwill based on member feedback:
• Over 5,560 hours per week of unpaid work carried out by senior practitioners; and
• unpaid overtime carried out by the DiT workforce that is equivalent to an additional 231 full-time employees.
The unpaid work that medical practitioners currently provide to WA Health overall, equates to an additional 370 full-time medical practitioners.
Fundamental entitlements, such as salary payments, access to annual leave and the provision of parental leave, are either wilfully misunderstood or constantly re-interpreted by Employers in order to restrict access or produce savings, while legal requirements designed to protect practitioners’ wellbeing, such as access to leave, minimum staffing levels, record keeping requirements or rostering limits, are woefully disregarded.
It is extremely disappointing that WA Health System Employers continue to overlook the contributions and dedication of the medical workforce, who consistently work beyond contractual and agreement requirements to ensure patient outcomes and health system efficiency. WA Health continues to expect practitioners to endure an increasingly fractious employment environment, where legal entitlements and wellbeing are completely disregarded.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
The WA Health System – Medical Practitioners – AMA Industrial Agreement 2016, while expiring on 30 September 2019, continues to remain in force until a new agreement is reached.
In the absence of a forthcoming offer that aims to address system deficiencies and key issues highlighted above, the AMA (WA) will consult with WA Health System employees as to possible actions to ensure that practitioners’ contributions and sacrifices are respected and valued and their longstanding industrial entitlements are not eroded.